Getting the Royal Treatment at the Vallarta PalaceOctober 12, 2010 3 Comments
Right off the bat, I was not thrilled. About the idea of traveling to Mexico by myself–or rather, with my three boys (as my husband, who was working, could not come along). It was to be a mini-family reunion with me, my kids, and their grandparents, who were flying out from New Jersey to meet us in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. But, since my parents were paying for this vacation, I could hardly say no. Besides, who could really complain about a sunny week’s Mexico Vacation at an all-inclusive resort? So, my husband dropped us and our baggage off at LAX, and off to the Vallarta Palace we flew.
This was the boys’ first trip out of the country, and they were understandably a bit nervous, although I assured them that everything would be just fine and we would all have a wonderful time in spite of the fact that Dad couldn’t come along with us. Luckily, the plane ride went very smoothly and my mom and dad were there to meet us at the airport when we landed–and guided us through the maze of cabdrivers and salespeople who wanted to sell us timeshare properties the second we got off the plane from Los Angeles.
My father had already taken care of getting us transportation to our hotel (he’s very good at such things), so we stepped outside, into weather so hot and humid I thought someone had dropped a wet blanket over me, and hopped into our waiting van. From there it was just a short 20-minute jaunt to our hotel, located on the beachfront in Nayarit, Mexico.
When we stepped through the grand doors of the Vallarta Palace, I noticed right away that the temperature of the impressive marble lobby was delicious–like slipping into a pool of cool water after the oppressive humidity outdoors. As we approached the reception desk to check in we were immediately greeted with flowers for the ladies (my mom and I), and yummy frozen drinks (non-alcoholic, so the kids were able to enjoy them as well). This was just the start of being thoroughly, utterly spoiled and pampered for the entire week. Not that I minded!
We received our room keys (mom and dad were right next door) and headed upstairs to check out our new digs for the week. Opening the door, we beheld a luxurious master suite with a HUGE jacuzzi tub and extremely well-stocked mini-bar and fridge. Of course, my boys being boys, they immediately began jumping from one queen-sized bed to the other while I threw open the door to the balcony and went outside to take in the view. Our room overlooked three sparkling blue free-form pools and a gorgeous beach. The sun was just beginning to set and it was a lovely sight.
After freshening up we met my parents and headed downstairs to dinner. The Vallarta Palace offers four restaurants on the premises: Italian, Mexican, Brazilian, and Asian. We chose Mar Intimo, the Italian restaurant, and it ended up being our most often-visited dining establishment for the rest of the trip. Pasta and meatballs for the kids, seafood for the adults, and cannoli and gelato for dessert–everyone left satiated and happy. Since it had been a long day of travel, we decided to turn in early and get a jump-start on the next day.
The next morning we dressed casually and went back to Mar Intimo for their spectacular breakfast buffet–you can get just about anything you want, and for me, as a mother of three boys, all with VERY different tastes, it was heaven-sent. My littlest guy loves big, hearty breakfasts with eggs, bacon, and hash browns; my middle son usually just noshes on cold cereal and fuit; and my eldest is given to sweet pastries and breads. There was something for everyone and much, much more. Omelettes cooked to order, Mexican breakfasts including beans, rice, chicken and chorizo; and a great selection of fruit smoothies that my 12-year-old went crazy over. I personally loved the wait staff, who were all extremely polite and attentive (as well as patient and tolerant of my half-baked attempts at Spanish conversation), and the way they constantly kept your cup filled with hot, delicious coffee!
After eating way too much, we rolled out of there and back upstairs to change into our swimsuits, then headed down to the pools. We set up camp at the main pool and had barely sat down when a waitress appeared and politely asked us if we’d like anything to drink. Considering it was only 10 a.m. and already hovering around 90 degrees, the answer was a resounding YES!! However, again considering that it was only 10 a.m., we chose to avoid anything alcoholic (though plenty of that was available if you chose to partake). Over the course of the week, my parents and I became extremely adept at asking for “un vaso de agua minerale con limon” (a glass of sparkling water with lime). No matter how hot it was that day or any day thereafter, we couldn’t possibly have dehydrated…our attentive waitresses were back every ten to fifteen minutes to make sure our drinks were always cold and fresh!!
The kids had a wonderful time playing in the pool, though they were warned by staffers against jumping into the pool from the central bridge that crosses it because of its shallowness. Because the water was so warm, there was no such thing as “getting used to it” (the kids know I always take several minutes to ease into colder water–none of that here!). You could wade right in.
At exactly noon every day, live entertainment would begin at the main pool–this consisted of a DJ and an emcee who spoke rapid-fire in both English and Spanish. It was a little like attending a wedding in the pool–he would preside over silly dance contests, games, water volleyball matches, and give prizes to people for answering trivia questions. The boys found it quite amusing and really got involved in a lot of the activities.
For younger kids, or for parents who need a break, the resort offers a Kids Club for children aged 4-12, where kids can enjoy supervised activities including art projects, games and computers while they enjoy the company of their peers. My boys were happy to simply swim and play most of the day–and eat. A lot.
What with all of this lounging around by the pool, the family and I found ourselves soon working up another appetite. Luckily for us there was a daily outdoor lunch buffet near the kiddie wading pool where we could have our fill of nachos, chicken, sandwiches, pizza. french fries and salads. And let us not forget the ice cream bar, where you can make your own ice cream cone with toppings of your choice. If that’s not your cup of tea, there’s also a freezer with a huge assortment of fruit-flavored ice pops. It’s really not too difficult to get used to this type of treatment!
More swimming and sunning followed lunch, and then in the late afternoon we decided it was time to retreat to our rooms and clean up. We were surprised when we opened the door to see a dinosaur made out of rolled-up bath towels perched on one of the beds! Our dinosaur was the first of a series of towel “animals”–there was a new one every night when we returned to our room. I thought it was a great touch, especially with kids…it actually got them to want to take a shower!
After another indulgent dinner (this time at the Mexican restaurant), we all thought it would be fun to go and see the show in the hotel’s ballroom featuring traditional dances and costumes from many different regions of Mexico. The performance was wonderful, exciting and colorful, and we and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it–particularly the Mexican gaucho and his amazing lasso-spinning act!
By the time the show ended we were all yawning, and ready to beat tracks back to our rooms and gear up for another day of sun and fun!!